With its valet parking at both lunchtime and in the evening, its ‘remarkable table’ plaque and its concept of French-Brazilian fusion food, OKA is trying very hard to convince you that it’s a decidedly chic affair.
However, look beyond this pomp and you’ll actually find some really extraordinary food. Here’s our review.
OKA is a a real sensorial experience. As soon as you arrive it’s clear that every little detail has been mulled over – the interior design is cosy with lots of blue velvet, the bouquets of flowers are beautiful and fresh, the crockery is superb… Chef Raphaël Rego seems to have thought of everything.
As you can see, there’s sufficient space between tables, and the seats are comfortable, but before getting into the food it’s worth knowing a little more about the concept.
As a text displayed outside tells us, Franco-Brazilian Raphaël Rego has “invented a new type of cuisine” (even if he says so himself!). After numerous voyages, Raphaël has created extremely tight bonds with many Amazonian tribes, allowing him to import over fifty rare products that he can then use in his revolutionary dishes.
There’s no menu to choose from, just fixed-priced selections based on the chef’s inspiration, with three or six dishes at midday, or nine dishes in the evening. Prices range from 35€-120€ depending on how much you want to eat and whether you’d like wine pairings for each dish.
Going for lunch rather than dinner is an excellent way of sampling the cuisine without ruining yourself. We chose the Traversée menu, supposedly with six dishes (although there turned out to be nearly a dozen). Remember to tell them in advance if you have any allergies or special needs (for example, we told them there was a vegetarian in our group, and it wasn’t a problem).
The meal started with a strong spirit to clear the palate – cachaça served in a little red pepper surrounded by crushed ice. This numbed the tongue a little, as if to announce that the meal ahead was going to be something really out of the ordinary.
Next, crunchy plantain, courgette purée and Amazonian honey, a great mix served on a piece of wood (no doubt from the Amazonian forest).
The next marvel – black rice and quinoa crunchies with passion fruit, rapadura and fish on one, and prawns on the other. What a spectacular presentation!
Eating a number of very small dishes like this is really a new experience. There are so many of them, so many tastes to discern and everything is always impeccable presented and explained.
We continues with some guacamole with Belém spice, served in a thin biscuit (also spiced). Next to it came some lime with a caipirinha foam. Really good!
Next, langoustine with green papaya compote, a little oil and a fermented manioc sauce.
Each dish really is a creation…
Next, cubes of foie gras in a manioc sauce (served without foie for our vegetarian diner). Note the little flower petals…
And on we went with some John Dory with spinach, beans from Belém and a saffron sauce. Delicious (a special mention also goes to the sauce hidden underneath the fish).
And our last savoury dish arrived! Lobster with coconut flour, papaya and a condiment we didn’t quite catch the name of (actually, we often had a hard time remembering what was in each dish – sometimes there are six or seven!)
The time had come to have some dessert, or rather desserts (we didn’t realise immediately that three different ones were coming our way).
To start off with, lemon, avocado and white chocolate, all of it edible! Incredible.
Now, a dessert all made of chocolate, plus a little buckwheat and spice. Really lovely, and surprising with its liquid core…
…and to finish off (we really weren’t hungry any more, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do), a pineapple sorbet with passion fruit.
And of course a little coffee to finish off.
With the kitchen adjacent to the dining area, you can look through the vast glass divide and appreciate all the work being done to entertain your tastebuds.
We were particularly intrigued by the Big Green Egg on the counetrtop. It’s actually a special kind of barbecue that used “revolutionary ceramic technology developed by NASA”! More info can be found on the manufacturer’s website.
For a completely different kind of meal, OKA should be at the top of your list of choices. Tasting all these little dishes takes a little time – around 2 hours at midday and a little more in the evening – and the price of lunch is actually pretty reasonable when you take into account all the effort that goes into the preparation of each creation.
We unreservedly recommend OKA, and think that they’ll be getting some awards very soon, so get down there asap!
OKA (here) is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday-Friday
Tel. +33 (0)1 45 87 16 17 (reservations accepted by phone only between 8pm and 9.30pm)
Online booking: here
Website (very swish): www.okaparis.fr
To check out all our photos of OKA, simply click here.